It was good to see so many familiar names and faces from the world of skiing at former Olympic gold medalist Franz Klammer’s now famous Wooden Spoon golf event which this year was staged at the Royal mid-Surrey Golf Club on a particularly warm sunny autumn day after a lapse of four years. Everybody who has played this event in past events remembers fondly the welcoming hospitality and bonhomie extended to us by Austria and various resort sponsors yet four years ago we all said a fond farewell to Franz and his Wooden Spoon golf day for the last time when the final event was staged in Austria in the canton of Carinthia, Franz’s home territory and where he learnt to ski as a youngster, For four memorable days a group of around thirty keen golfers and ski journalists (who also play golf) were regally entertained by the Austrian and Carinthian Tourist Offices and over four days and where we played three superb courses including Bad Kleinenkirkheim’s local golf course and Slovenia’s Royal Lake Bled.  The final evening was celebrated in style with a Gala dinner in the Grand Hotel in Bled and several fond farewell speeches were made plus millions of thanks to Franz and sponsors. I remember vividly giving Franz a farewell kiss almost in tears thanking him profusely for the wonderful golf memories and generous hospitality. Not for one minute did I think the event would be re-instated four years later but how wrong I was!.  

Seemingly through popular demand it was decided to stage the event this year at the Royal mid-Surrey golf club which turned out to be the perfect venue for the occasion. Many familiar faces from the world of skiing gathered that day including sixty keen golfers besides a smattering of ski journalists but most were from the travel trade and here to compete in a Texas Scramble that kicked off at mid-day after a delicious brunch in the spacious club house. I was given hole number 5 as my start hole which was somewhere in the boondocks but fortunately I had arranged to have a buggy and with some blind navigating managed to locate the hole before the horn was blasted as the sign to commence play – in Stapleford format.  Although my golf veered from brilliant to abysmal, my companions were fun to play with. Several holes were hosted by individual Austrian Ski resorts where kiosks had been erected and where we offered a variety of typical Austrian delicacies to eat, schnapps and Austrian wine to drink which I carefully avoided until the last couple of holes when I simply couldn’t resist a large gulp of schnapps to keep me going for the next couple of holes. 

As soon as we returned to the club house and handed in our cards, it was a quick shower and change into evening outfits for the Gala dinner before joining the others in the club’s bar for jovial hour catching up with everyone’s exploits and gossip. Some non playing guests were given golf lessons by a couple of the club’s resident pros and that also included Eddie the Eagle who later admitted this was his ever golf lesson. Besides former Olympians Eddie Edwards, golf medalist Franz Klammer, there were also several  past and present Olympic skiers on the guest list including Grahame Bell, Conrad Beltalski, Amy Williams, Chemmie Alcott to name but a few. It was by far a most entertaining evening where many of great and good from the world of skiing rubbed shoulders. The food was delicious and drinks flowed all evening…… and oh yes, delighted to say I wasn’t the recipient of the now famous Franz Klammer’s Wooden Spoon trophy, (awarded to the player with the least number of points), but can’t remember who did win suffice to say it is now regarded as a salubrious honour! 

The good news is that the Franz Klammer Wooden Spoon event will definitely be back next year – can’t wait!!

End

It’s this time of the year, the start of the pre-skiing season when resorts and travel agents launch new ideas and products and invite a bunch of ski journalists to a variety of jammy receptions in central London as a means of informing us of their latest innovations. Admittedly, it is that time of the year when most journalists are on the look out for new ideas to write about whether it’s anything remotely to do with newly opened or refurbished hotels, restaurants or new inter-connecting ski lifts and runs, but it is always a perfect sounding boards to arrange future press trips and catch up with other ski journalists who are rarely seen outside the ‘Silly Ski Season’ except perhaps on the odd ski trip.

The first up was Switzerland’s posh reception at the Lansborough Hotel near Hyde Park Corner, one of London’s most expensive and luxury hotels. On arrival we were all given small white cards with sayings on them, mine for example, simply read, ‘Swiss Air’, while others had more exotic statements! Nobody quite knew what this was all about but we were firmly instructed not to lose our cards. Once ushered into a long reception room, waiters greeted us with trays laden with large glasses of red and white Swiss wine and during the course of the next hour we were lavishly entertained with delicious tasting canapes while empty glasses constantly replenished. Half way through the evening a small video presentation was shown describing many of Switzerland’s famous resorts, mountains and destinations. This was followed by a fun but fitting travel game. If whatever was written on your white card fitted the missing words that came up on the screen relating to various advertisements and statements about Switzerland, you were rewarded with a small prize. Fortunately mine was the simplest; as soon as a large aeroplane appeared on the screen all I had to do was wave my card and yell. ‘Swiss Air’. My gift was a bright red cricket ball with the words Ice Cricket St Moritz emblazoned in silver on it  However, some bright spark with a sense of humour had us all in fits of laughter when she kept yelling, Theresa May’ to whatever question that came up, for example, when asked to name a famous Swiss mountain, up came the answer Teresa May!. 

The next reception was at the Goring Hotel where once the entire Middleton family were ensconced during their daughter’s Kate’s marriage to Prince William. Now I understand why! This is a delightfully run family hotel with a deep sense of tradition, staff are all extremely polite and helpful. This time it was St Moritz’s Klum hotel’s turn to launch new ideas and this reception turned out to be another delightful evening where champagne flowed and canepes were plentiful. This time we were given a fascinating presentation about St Moritz and neighbouring villages and once again available press ski trips were discussed. 

Following St Moritz the next week was the Daily Telegraph’s Ski Show in Battersea, which was as much fun for punters and it was for journalists. here was certainly plenty to see and do to keep everyone happy and fully occupied. Besides the slope style skiing demonstrations there were several receptions to go and the first one kicked off with the Powdair and Snow-Camp which aoffered delicious salamis, Palma hams and a selection of local cheeses plus unlimited red and white wine. Next port of call was France’s Morzine Avoriaz resorts, and this was followed by Utah’s Park city, which gave out a goodie bags full of useful ski items. By this time I needed a bit of rest and went off to watch Graham Bell conducting a Q and A with some of our Olympic skiers taking part in next year’s Olympics in PyeongChang who talked about their training, hard work and rewards. Finally, I ended up at the Austrian Tourist Board stand for a ‘glass or two of schnapps’ but as I don’t drink schnapps I ended with a glass of white wine instead. Somehow I managed to win a prize for guessing the right Schnapps flavours and won a towel – my third this year!

If all accounts this year’s Daily Telegraph Ski Show was one of the best, and very entertaining and good fun – can’t wait for next year’s!.

 

End

 

A chance email to PR John Collard Managing Director of Sports Impact regarding his client, Royal mid Surrey Golf Club (near Twickenham Rugby ground) as a possible venue for the Austrian Tourist Board who were looking for a suitable golf club to re-instate the renowned Franz Klammer Wooden Spoon golf tournament, an event that was last held in the UK four years ago. led to an unexpected invitation to take part in a special media golf day at the club. My instructions were to arrive by id-day and as luck would have it, the warm, sunny weather was perfect for a day of golf. Proceedings kicked off with a delicious lunch in the Clubhouse restaurant and hosted by Bernhard Gallacher, who is attached to Royal mid Surrey. It was good to see Bernard looking fir and well. Most remember when he suffered a near fatal heart attack which seemingly hasn’t diminished his interests in golf although he enjoys reminding you of the quick thinking people with him at the time who immediately administered CPR and called for an ambulance.The rest is now history, and in his element welcoming the media to Royal mid Surrey Golf Club. 

Following his welcome speech, we all sat down to a delicious lunch. I was seated between Tom, a golf journalist from Golf Digest and Luke Edgecum, the club’s secretary who during the course of our conversation, kindly offered me a Four Ball for the Lawn Tennis Writers’s Annual Awards lunch charity raffle which I organise each year –  I’m always on the prowl for raffle prizes. This year’s lunch is at Roehampton Tennis Club instead of the All England Club where it’s usually held but due to continuing construction work on Court One’s retractable roof and the refurbishment of Centre Court’s debenture lounge there’s literally no room at the inn this year.

After lunch we were asked to assemble at first hole of JH Taylor course in readiness for our tee times in groups of four, my group consisted of Tom who I sat next, another journalist from Golf News and the club’s Golf Manager, Paul Crowe.  Throughout Paul was very helpful in explaining the various hidden and tricky challenges on the course as well telling me all about the club’s club’s history. The course is mostly flat but interesting to play, although the constant noise of planes from nearby Heathrow airport can prove a bit distracting at times. Seemingly members are immune to the noise? Over the past few years several holes have been redesigned to make the course more challenging including a couple of long par 5’s. My claim to fame was a perfect pitch and putt on hole 11 in front of Bernard Gallagher who waiting to be interviewed by Sky TV. My 7 iron shot landed a couple of feet from the green, about ten feet from the flag. Somehow I managed a execute a perfect pitch shot and the ball obediently rolled to within in a foot of the hole, and from there was able to putt in one! What luck! Bernard even congratulated me on my perfect pitch and putt.

All in all it was a very entertaining and enjoyable day, even my golf didn’t let me down finishing a couple of shots below my handicap! 

Whenever time allows I always make a point of attending the annual Southampton Boat Show and in the past the weather has been kind, mostly glorious sunny weather and perfect for messing about on boats. Most of the top yacht manufacturers are moored on the water, and  part of the exhibition. The good weather is possibly one of the reasons the Show has been so so successful in the past and the most attended in the UK. Thankfully this year the weather was reasonably warm and sunny for most of the day but towards the end of the afternoon black clouds appeared on the horizon and soon followed by torrents of rain. Fortunately by that time I had visited most of the stands I needed to and chatted to most of the people I wanted to see.  

Prior to the Boat Show, I  went to Hugh Jamieson funeral in nearby Bosham, Hugh, a former colleague who wrote on sports for several national newspapers including tennis which is how we met a couple of decades ago. A few years ago he suffered a near fatal heart attack and was whisked off Southampton General Hospital who, according to Hugh, ‘did everything to save my life’ and lived to tell the tale. It was after hearing this that the Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association decided to donate money raised at their Annual Awards lunch charity raffle to Southampton’s heart division to go towards a much-needed  piece of equipment. In all we raised over £3,000, and Hughie and the hospital were over the moon. Later he sent me a personal note of thanks. 

But back to the Boat Show and my first port of call was the SunSail stand for an invitation to drinks and a presentation, which I found interesting but it was sad to learn how much damage Hurricane Irma had inflicted on Sunsail’s fleet based in and around the Virgin Gorda. Most boats had been systematically damaged or destroyed and apparently not recoverable under their insurance. Gin and tonics were on offer but fortunately I’m not a G & T person and happily declined just as well as the next port of call was the Sunseeker luxury motor yachts stand where champagne or rather prosecco flowed, plus lots of delicious eats and canepes.  After a fascinating presentation where we were told among other facts and figures, is that sales were on the increase despite Brexit, Afterwards I looked around a couple of their luxury yachts,  and have to say the interior design is well thought out. 

After bumping into more friends and acquaintances from the sailing world, I decided to call it a day and drive back to London, this time not via Sandbanks as first planned. 

End

 

Each year, the already well established ski guide, ‘Where to Ski and Snowboard’ and co-authored by Chris Gill and Dave Watts hold their annual launch party at the Liberal Club in Westminster usually during the first week of September marking what is referred to as the beginning of the ‘Silly Ski Season’ and thus followed by a series of ski lunches, launches and parties! This event though, is always well attended by the great and the good from the world of skiing and this year’s party was no exception, and full of familiar faces. This is always a good sign to kick-start the silly season although it felt a bit strange having to think about the forthcoming winter season when London was and still is experiencing unseasonably warm Autumn! And this all prior to the Daily Telegraph’s Ski Show at the end of October.  

This year’s launch party, sponsored jointly by two well-known ski resorts, Kitzbuhel in Austria and Italy’s Alta Badia, was a jolly affair. Ironically, the evening’s highlight (after various speeches by resort representatives), it was former Olympic skier Konrad Bartelski turn to pick out a couple of business cards from a large glass bowl which we had been asked to leave on arrival. The first card to be pulled out was that of Frazer Wilkins’s who runs the Snow-Wise website and I was particularly thrilled he’d won the holiday to Kitzbuhel as both his young sons are keen skiers as well as tennis players. It was while congratulating Fraser that someone gentle tapped me on the shoulder to inform me my name had been the next to be called and understandably I was all but speechless to find I had won the second prize, a ski holiday for four guest to Alta Badia. You have to understand I NEVER win anything and why I so surprised. So here I am with a free ski holiday to Alta Badia for four friends! The only drawback is flights aren’t included but that’s not an insurmountable problem!

A couple of days later it was Utah’s Park City’s turn and this year’s party was held in the heart of Soho in the premises known as the Marquis Club in 70’s where non-stop live music was played by bands some who became household names. Now its simply known as ‘100 Wardour Street’, a large elegant bar and restaurant. This party though was a lot smaller compared to the launch of ‘Where to ski and snowboard’, but just as much fun. The other attraction of these functions is the ‘goody bags’ presented to us on leaving and it’s of little surprise at the amount of  ‘stuff’ collected from ‘goody bags although most usually contain a few useful gifts or two. In Park City’s bag was a useful battery free spotlight torch that only needs to be re-charged from a USB port. Following Park City’s party and a couple of days later was ABTOF’s annual sit down lunch at the Tara Hotel in Kensington. The format of the lunch is that everyone connected to the travel trade change tables after each course while journalists stay put. The advantages of this format is that you have a far better chance of meeting and chatting to a lot more people connected to the travel trade than you would normally! 

Well that was the week that was – more to follow  – all to be recorded in the next blogs!

 

 


 

These days it is not often a mouth-watering invite plops on the doormat. This one was to attend a high goal polo match at Guards Polo Club sponsored by Land Rover taking place at the end of August which I was delighted to accept. After spending a couple of wonderful weeks in Sandbanks I raced back to a deserted London on Saturday of the August Bank holiday weekend for Sunday’s polo match. A cloudless blue sky greeted me on the I drove to Guards Polo club but fortunately I had chosen a light summer dress to wear with colourful wedge shoes, (for treading in divots between chukkas). It was driving through the Great Windsor Park and seeing deer meandering around the park that it occurred to me how beautiful the countryside looked in late summer, and could be forgiven for taking a short detour to lap it up before arriving at Guards Polo Club.  Apart from the park’s distractions I still managed to get there in time for the pre-lunch champagne reception held on the lawns outside Guards Polo club. Ladies were mostly in dressed in delightful Ascot type outfits and men in summer suits, it looked all very Ascot but without the hats. I soon spied my hosts  Andrew and Bee Robb chatting to other guests and was soon handed a large glass of chilled champagne. An hour we were seated at Land Rover’s large, long table for twenty odd guests full of fascinating people, my end included 26-year-old Max Charlton who I chatted to about polo, he plays off a 7 handicap and is one of UK’s youngest high handicapped.  

During the delicious three course lunch Max and Rugby star Jason Robinson gave informal chats about their respective sports presided over by radio presenter Matt Baker. First Max told us about how he started in polo and how he reached his unprecedented high handicap of 7, something many experienced players would have loved to have achieved including perhaps even Prince Charles who once boasted a handicap of 4!. Jason followed with a fascinating talk on rugby including an insight on how England won the 2003 World Cup when they played Australia in the finals, a team everyone deemed was impossible to beat, and a match mostly remembered by Johnny Wilkinson famous kick try that clinched the Cup although few actually remember the role Jason played in setting up the final try. I was duly impressed with the way Jason delivered his side of the story to a room full of club members and their guests, most of whom I feared, knew little about the game of rugby.

Following lunch, the fun started when the Land Rover Duke of Cornwall final was played between two highly competitive high goal teams, the Golden Falcons team with total handicap of 15 against Park Place with 16, the eventual winners. Both teams played outstanding quality polo and I enjoyed every minute watching it particularly the way players deftly hit balls with long sticks from both flanks. Between matches tea was served in the clubhouse and when I managed a few words with Jason and congratulated him on his talk, if anything he was a delight to talk to. Another match followed between the two losing teams of the Land Rover championships, Bridge House of Twyford with a total handicap of 16 against Shoreline also 16 handicap and another exciting match. I can’t remember what time I finally left but I do remember thinking as I drove back though Windsor Park, what a wonderful fun day, and all thanks to my hosts Andrew and Bee! 

 

End

 

 

A pleasant two-hour train journey with Eurostar to the centre of Brussels is in my opinion the best way to travel to Belgium these days. There are a surprising number of superb golf courses in and around the capital and Flanders our destination, and surprisingly boasts over 50 varied and amazing courses all within a couple of hours drive of Brussels. This trip was arranged through EGTMA (European Golf and Travel Media Association) for 20 international golf journalists including Jo Meas, its founder and behind the trip’s success.

With golf clubs in tow I arrived at Brussels Midi and took a ten minute taxi ride to Martin’s Hotel (www.martinsbrussels eu) for our first overnight stay and once checked in met up with the rest of our group before piling into one of two Hertz sponsored People’s Carriers for a visit to the National Golf Club on the outskirts of Brussels where we were met by various dignities from Belgium’s golf and Travel industries. After walking a couple of holes of this recently opened 9 holes course, the back 9 are due to open at the end of the year, we returned to a buzzing club house for drinks and a delicious three course Belgium styled dinner in the club’s spacious dining room.    

Packed and checked out the next day we drove for about an hour and a half to the Damme Golf and Country Club arriving in time for our 11 am tee times. Although a mainly flat course it is full of unexpected hazards and challenges but a pleasant course to play.  After a mid-afternoon ‘light’ lunch we continued to the historic city of Ghent for our next overnight stay in the five-star Marriott hotel. My large comfortable room boasted an enormous king size bed, what bliss! After a quick shower we met up for an hour’s walking tour of this fascinating historic city with a delightfully eccentric but amusing guide. After the walking tour, we boarded an awaiting sightseeing boat for a romantic guided tour of the city’s canals and served prosecco and dry snacks during the trip! Back at the hotel we were immediately ushered into a private dining room for a delicious three course dinner.

The following day we made our way to the Cleydael Golf club where former top tennis player, Kim Clijsters’s first coach regularly plays. Recently she remembered him fondly in her speech given at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. As soon as we finished playing, we drove off to Mechelen where we checked into the Martin’s Patershof hotel, a former converted church and where rooms are architecturally designed to include many of the church’s features, and stained glass windows. Although exhausted, we fitted in another guided  tour but found Ghent far more interesting. 

From Mechelen on to the Millennium Golf Club where Belgium’s top professional, Tomas Pieters learnt to play and where his father, Jaak is the club’s president. We chatted briefly and he revealed he and his wife still accompany their increasingly successful son to many of the tournaments often renting large houses to accommodate the entire family. I enjoyed playing this mostly undulating course and tree-lined fairways, some doglegging to right or left. From here we drove on to the university town of Leuven, checked into Martin’s Klooster Hotel, a converted former monastery where we stayed for the next three days. My spacious room was in the modern annex and had an enormous bathroom with a jacuzzi and walk-in shower. The following day we made our way to the Spiegelven Golf Club for our fourth round of golf. The course is an 18 hole par 72 course, which I found interesting and challenging to play although the 15th and 18th water holes are particularly taxing.  

Finally on to Winge Golf and Country Club for our last round of golf in Flanders and where ironically and unexpectedly I produced the best results of the week! Throughout the week we were blessed with wonderful warm and sunny weather, perfect golf weather. We celebrated the last evening with a Gala dinner and were served a delicious three course meal, and another memorable occasion and finished up in the hotel’s bar until the early hours! A lovely way to end a wonderful week of golf, gourmet and fun in Flanders!

End

 

Friends in Sandbanks had suggested staying for a couple of weeks from the end of July when they were in Canada to look after Jake their adorable Springer spaniel. I’ve known Jake since he was a small pup and was delighted to help out beside a couple of weeks by the sea was a perfect after a busy summer and taking Jake for long walks along sandy beaches very appealing.  

Sadly the weather wasn’t nearly as warm and sunny as it had been during the month of July and disappointingly, mostly overcast. My daily routine of taking Jake for walks along the beach barefooted, and paddling in the warmish sea was if anything very therapeutic. Twice during the first week I managed to escape to the Cowes Week Regatta after arranging for someone to look after Jake. This year ‘Lendy’ was Cowes new sponsor although it took a little while to understand what they actually represented but clearly they did a good job sponsoring the regatta.

Tuesday was perfect sailing weather and the day I decided to pop over to Cowes. Fortunately Leo, my friendly photographer had managed to get me the last free slot on the photographer’s press boat but only provided I kept out of everyone’s way. Watching the racing from the photographer’s press boat is always exciting as most of the time is spent speeding up and down the course watching the action at close quarters while boats round marker buoys sometimes so close to  boats you could almost hear the skipper’s instructions.  After a couple of hours on the water we returned to Cowes and I had to dash back to the Media Centre as arrangements had been made for me to interview Olympic gold medalist Hannah Mills who I found absolutely fascinating as her recounted her experiences Rio, and more recently when she was invited to the Royal Box at Wimbledon on what is regarded as ‘sporting Saturday’. She also revealed how a close up glimpse of Roger Federer descending the club’s ornate staircase before his Centre Court match, made her day!

Hannah was one of five nominees for the Elemis ‘Women in Sailing Awards, a party that was taking that evening only I was in two minds whether to go or not. My dilemma was catch the 6 o’clock ferry and be in good time to pick up Jake or stay on for the Elemis party. Well, after discovering James Norton of War and Peace fame and playing the sexy vicar in Grantchester, was also a guest, my mind was made up and ended meeting lots of interesting people and even managed a fun chat with James himself, but all good things have to come to an end and like Cinderella had to dash off to catch the 8.30 ferry back to Southampton but not before saying goodbye to James who gave me ig kiss on both cheeks, and then ran all the way the Red Ferry Hydrofoil with a huge grin on my face but at least I arrived in time to pick up Jake that evening!

The rest of the time spent in Sandbanks was a bit of a whirl, friends popped by and my sister came to stay a couple of nights. I even managed to fit in a game of tennis on the day I was due to drive back to London something I had been trying to organise all week. We ended up playing for about three hours in windy conditions which played havoc with my game but it was all worth while. In all I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in Sandbanks in spite of the mostly inclement weather. 

 

End

 

  

A day after the start of Wimbledon and I was asked by NBC to discuss a towel throwing incident which although I knew little about I agreed to do it. A car was duly dispatched to pick me up and soon I was discussing potential questions.The reason for this unexpected request was all due to a tweet from Jack Sock, an American player who after winning his first round match on an outside court had thrown a prized Wimbledon towels in the direction of a young fan sitting courtside only to watch the towel being snatched away by the outstretched hand of an older grey-haired gentleman in the row behind. It was Sock’s shock tweet that went viral and why NBC asked me to voice my opinions! While waiting for the cameraman to set up his camera outside Wimbledon’s main gates that I bumped into several friends and acquaintances and realised what I was missing and immediately text Lisa, a friend and founder of 10’sball.com to arrange a player’s guest pass something we had previously discussed during Queen’s.

Max Mirnyl cutting his birthday cake.

A couple of days later found me queuing in the player’s accreditation marquee picking up a guest badge that had been left courtesy of doubles specialist Max Mirnyi. It was a particularly hot, sultry day and also Max’s birthday which we later celebrated in style with a huge birthday cake organised by friends in the player’s restaurant!!  

After watching Donald Young on Court three whose mother is unusually his coach and who I chatted to during the Queen’s tournament. Max kindly arranged another guest badge for Friday, another hot day and this time I wandered over to Aorangi Park to watch Roger Federer practice and where one of the players showed me how to find unclaimed or lost balls behind hedges! Later I met up with Clare, an old friend and Virginia Wade in the members for a glass of champagne – how social!.

Tuesday of the second week it rained incessantly and the day the Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association old their annual AGM which, as a committee member I always attend. This year’s meeting was particularly important as several significant issues concerning the newly revised LTWA constitution were raised and needed voting in. After the meeting the only place to watch tennis was from Centre Court under its retractable roof where Penny, my niece and her daughter Flic were as I had given them two centre court tickets and could hardly believe their luck that they were able to watch first class tennis up until late evening while others waited patiently for the rain to stop. Roll on 2019 when Court One’s retractable roof should be ready!

Afterwards around 8 we all met up for a quick drink in the media centre with Martina, an old family friend and her daughter Cecile before finally leaving half an hour later with the rain still pouring down but at least I was able to give Penny and Flic a lift to where their car was parked.

Marin Cilic being interviewed.

Thursday is traditionally Wimbledon’s Media party which this year was fun apart from a spat with the Daily Telegraph’s tennis correspondent Simon Briggs concerning tickets for the Championships Dinner.The next day though, I was back at Wimbledon for the Member’s annual cocktail party as a guest of Virginia Wade!

Each year the member’s cocktail party starts promptly at 7.30 and finishes at 9.30 with the National Anthem – how British can you get! As always Lanson champagne flowed and the food was plentiful and delicious. My final visit to the Club was on finals day for our traditional meeting in the Club’s private committee room with the AELTC’s media committee for the traditional sweepstake where we are asked to guess the exact number of visitors attending the Championships (including Sunday’s attendance) over a glass or two of Champagne with everyone contributing £5 toward the charity of my choosing..

Roger Federer signing autographs.

The actual finals this year were if anything disappointing, the Ladies final between Venus Williams and Spain’s delightful Garbine Murguruza was a one-sided affair with Murguruza winning 7/5 6/0. Fortunately the men’s final was slightly more exciting but an injured Marin Cilic allowed Roger Federer to win in three routine sets, his 8th historic Wimbledon title,  

End

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot and sunny is the best way  to describe this year’s weather at the Aegon sponsored Queen’s Club tournament and after a nine-year innings Aegon’s final year of sponsorship. However, after a two-year period as a 500 level tournament there were a lot of disappointed ticket holders when a number of last-minute withdrawals including crowd favourite Juan Martin de Potro who pulled out injured following an early exit at the French Open and Gale Monfils, another crowd pleaser.  Rafa Nadal’s long-awaited re-appearance after a four-year hiatus also ended in disappointment when he withdrew from the tournament after his historic ‘La decima’ French Open title citing exhaustion after deciding his weary body wouldn’t hold to another tournament so soon after his French Open victory.   

On the warm, sunny opening day matches commenced with a clash between two Frenchmen, Jo Wilfred Tsonga and Adrian Marrino with an easy win for Tsongo but this was followed by a second round defeat for the Frenchman to unseeded Giles Muller from Luxemburg who as it later turned out, was the unexpected winner of a marathon match against Rafa Nadal in the Wimbledon’s round of 16 two weeks! But back to Queen’s – with Murray as top seed a lot of pressure was placed on his shoulders to defend his title but the world’s number one unexpectedly lost to unseeded Aussi Jordan Thompson in the first round. As it turned out that wasn’t all of Murray’s woes who later revealed a hip problem needed sorting out before the start of Wimbledon. Disappointing outcome for tickets holders who doubtless had expected to see  a lot more of Murray but then the entire tournament was full of unpredictable surprises and disappointments.

 

Feliano Lopez is added to the list of winners.

The semi finals match between Spain’s unseeded Felicano Lopez and seventh seed Thomas Berdych was another surprise win for Lopez who later went on to defeat 6th seed Grigor Dimitrov to reach the finals against fourth seed Marin Cilic a 2012 winner and favourite to win but on an overcast, damp finals day it was the in-form 35-year-old Lopez who went on the win his first Queen’s tournament, a title he had always wanted to win!   

 

Me having a drink with friends.

There is a lot to be said about Queen’s as a venue for a 500 event. Besides being a private tennis club, members are allowed in free and mostly a knowledgable crowd but the atmosphere in many ways reminds me of a sort of mini Ascot with a daily parade of pretty dresses and fashionable outfits, During the tournament the obvious most sought-after place to be seen in are the clubhouse and members enclosure which were always full to capacity. But work prevailed and there was little or no time to spend with friends during the tournament in the member’s after the close of play. My media pass entitled me to eat lunch in the players restaurant where not only was there an incredible choice of delicious food but more often than not opportunities to chat to players, coaches and various people involved in tennis – off the record of course! Often matches went on until quite late but with a free bar in the press centre was where, I usually ended up at the end of the day although time permitting would arrange to meet up with friends after matches in members and that often included my Danish girlfriend’s son Nico who turned up once for an after 5.30 guest badges but had such a great time came back a couple pf more times. By finals day, the hot weather had turned to rain but luckily the finals ended without a rain delay with a surprise unseeded winner!

Next up Wimbledon!

 

 

 

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